Tuesday, October 8, 2013

TSA Zombie Scanner Security Wand

This scanner is essentially an Arduino based theremin using an ultrasonic sensor as input.  The Arduino blinks some LEDs in response.

It is all housed in a custom cardboard/papier mache housing with attached grip.

You will need:

An Arduino, I used an Arduino UNO.

Ultrasonic range sensor - I used an HC-SR04, generic from ebay

Piezo speaker or buzzer for sound.

Bunch of LEDs in red and white.

Bunch of resistors to prevent your LEDs from burning out.  Use any online LED calculator to figure out the value of the resistor needed based on the specs of your circuit.

A couple of tactile switches and a slide switch for the battery pack.

A battery pack to make it portable.

Wire for the electronics

Cardboard and glue


Something to cover the front, plexiglas, acrylic, or I used some scrap window screen metal mesh.

CAUTION: Crafting is hazardous, pointy things and sharp things are pointy and sharp.  Know how to solder and use electronics safely.

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Tree of Life wire pendant

I was inspired for this pendant by this instructable:


I searched google images for tree of life pendant and then I decided to make my own version. After a bit of trying, this is what I came up with. I hope you like it!

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Today, Google brings its carousel design for local searches to the desktop.

Today, Google brings its carousel design for local searches to the desktop. Search for a restaurant and you'll see a black bar with pictures of all the nearby results. Read more here.

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My Secret to Reading a Lot of Books

My girlfriend says I have a thing for books. I probably spend more money on books than any other expense, aside from food. Walking into a bookstore with a good selection makes me want to rent a truck and haul their entire stock away to pile in my house so that I can read every single one of them.

If your goal is to read a lot–like mine is–there are a few obstacles to overcome:

Keeping track of the books you want to readRefining the list down to ones you’re going to read in the near featureActually reading themRetaining the important partsNothing is worse than wanting to get a new book and facing the empty Amazon search bar, their shallow recommendations staring back at you, KNOWING that there’s something better out there for you, but not being able to remember the 10+ books that you really wanted to read but never wrote down.

I have a two pronged solution for this:

1. Evernote
2. Pinboard.in

I have one Evernote note (started in 2010) with almost every book that has caught my eye in the last three years. It’s pretty huge. Evernote is great for this purpose because it also has a mobile version, so wherever you are you can pull out your phone and type the book in for later.

I also use Pinboard.in which is a really simple bookmarking service to collect books. Typically these are ones that I find on Amazon that I want to save for later. Both of these options are good for maintaining your list–though if you have to choose one, Evernote is probably the best because it works on mobile.

The biggest problem with this is that it gets really unwieldy after a while. It’s hard to keep track of which books you’ve already read, and it’s hard to find the books that you have top of mind in a list that’s 100s of lines long.

To refine my list I use Trello. For example, when this summer began I took a bunch of the books from my Evernote list that I felt like I wanted to read and put them into a Trello Board called Books. On this board I categorize them into two lists: “To Read” and “Backlog.”

My Secret to Reading a Lot of Books

Above: My "Books" Trello board

“To Read” is composed of things that I want to read immediately. “Backlog” is composed of things that I want to read some time this summer. Whenever I’m in a bookstore or I get a book recommendation that I’m really excited about I put the book into my “To Read” list.

What I find often is that when I first hear about a book it will get me excited and I’ll want to read it immediately. But after a few days or weeks it will excite me less. If that happens I’ll move the book from “To Read” to “Backlog.” And after a while if it stays in “Backlog” I’ll move it back to my Evernote list.

The advantage of using Trello is a few-fold:

It keeps everything much more organized than EvernoteIt allows you to keep track of what you want to read, what you’re reading, and what you’ve already read in a pleasing wayBy putting books that you’re excited about into the list and letting them sit there for a few days or weeks, it allows you to separate the books that you actually want to read from the books that lose their appeal quicklyI have a rule for myself: I never read more than one book at a time, and I always finish every book I start.

I started doing this because I had a tendency to read five books at once. When you get into the habit of doing that, you end up never actually finishing anything. You’ll read a book for a few chapters, and then put it down for another one. This is annoying and doesn’t get you the satisfaction of reading a book from start to finish. By limiting myself to one book at a time and committing to finish it, I actually end up reading more books than if I read a bunch of them in parallel.

My Secret to Reading a Lot of Books

I have a couple of techniques for this depending on the book. For every (important) physical book that I’ve read since I high school I do exactly the same thing: I take a blank sheet of paper and fold it four ways into a square. I put the title of the book at the top and the date. Then as I’m reading I take notes on important themes or messages on the piece of paper, and write the page number that it shows up in. If I see the theme pop up in another section of the book I’ll go back to the original note and add the new page number.

Pictured at left: my notes from the last book I read, Fooled By Randomness

By the time I’m finished with the book I have a list of all the things I found interesting / insightful about it, and a list of all the page numbers where those things were discussed. This makes it really easy to pick up a book a few years after you first read and it figure out exactly what I thought was important about it. It also makes it easier to write about the books because I can usually pull out good quotes really quickly.

The other thing I’ve started to do recently is to write up my notes in Evernote. Having a piece of paper stuck inside the physical book is great (and doubles as a nice bookmark) but if you’re somewhere other than your house, it’s frustrating to not be able to access the information wherever you want. Typing the notes into Evernote on the other hand gives you access any time, from anywhere.

The other good thing about writing things out (whether by hand or by computer) is that you tend to remember them better. I’ve always been bothered by not remembering the things I read, and this seems to be a nice way to get the most out of the time you spend reading.

Now you know how I read. What do you do?

How to read a lot of books | Dan Shipper

Dan is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, where he majors in philosophy. He's currently working on a startup called Firefly that helps Web-based businesses cut customer support call times with cobrowsing. He can be found on Twitter or on his blog.

Image remixed from tuku (Pixabay).

Want to see your work on Lifehacker? Email Tessa.

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When Should I Care About My Job Title?

Dear Lifehacker,
I recently received a promotion at work that included a nice raise and several new responsibilities. It didn't, however, include a title change even though my new job description warrants one. Does this matter? Should I ask for a new title? If so, how should I go about it?

Troubled About Titles

Dear TAT,
Job titles cause a lot of trouble and they rarely matter that much in the moment. They can make people feel important at a job but rarely do more than establish a hierarchy. Your title only makes a significant difference when distinguishing a regular employee from a manager and when you leave your job and have to stick it on your resume. If you plan on staying at your job for awhile, a lack of a new title shouldn't have a major impact on you. Nevertheless, you don't want to ask for something from your company if you plan on walking out the door in the near future and want to leave on good terms. If you want a title bump, or at least want to know why you didn't get one, you just have to ask—in the right way, of course.

When Should I Care About My Job Title?

They're Reserving the Title for Later
Some companies can't afford pay raises for the same employees year after year—or, at least, not much of one—so they upgrade job titles instead. Your company may want to reserve a title boost for you later on so they can pay you less but still give you value. If this is the case, asking for your new title right now means you might get less later if they give it to you.

Publicly Promoting You Causes Trouble with Other Employees
Office politics can play a role as well. Sometimes giving you a greater title may make another employee feel stilted or want a promotion as well. Companies may want to keep your promotion relatively unknown, and as a result they won't provide you with a new title. If this happens, you should see that title bump in the near future (or at least have cause to ask again at a later time).

This Is a Test
Your company may also want to see how you perform in your new responsibilities before officially giving you a new title. If you've worked hard for them and earned a raise, they'll have no trouble paying you more for your continued effort. They may add new responsibilities as a test to see if you can handle them, then provide the title promotion on its own if you pass.

You Don't Deserve One Yet, or They Just Forgot
New responsibilities may seem like a lot to you and much less to your employer. If they haven't put you in charge of managing a large project or other people, they probably don't see your new position as a new position. Your company wants to pay you more because they've asked you to do more, but nothing that couldn't fall under your existing job title. While some companies will add a junior/senior distinction when providing new responsibilities, they may for some departments in the company but not others. For example, developers may get this distinction but customer support representatives will not. Look at your department and find a precedent. If it seems like you should have a title upgrade, you can ask for one. Sometimes companies don't think about it as closely as you might, so if it seems like they overlooked this aspect of your promotion you should bring it up.

When Should I Care About My Job Title?

When you ask for a title promotion after getting a raise you may come across as greedy. Also, because title promotions prove most useful on your resume, rather than at the company (in most cases), you also give the impression that you don't plan to stick around too long. You don't want that kind of brand at the company, as it can hurt you in the future whether or not you leave, so you should tread carefully.

If you work in a traditional company with different departments, you probably got a promotion because your manager recommended you for one and the company decided what to give you. This puts you in a better situation because you can talk to your direct manager about your title first, potentially minimizing the number of people who know you asked for it. If you need to go directly to your boss, don't worry—you still want to make the same approach. Tell your boss or manager something like the following:

I really appreciate the raise and new responsibilities, but I feel like I'm now doing the level of work associated with a(n) [INSERT JOB TITLE HERE]. I don't want to ask for too much because I'm very happy here, but do you think that's an accurate title for the work I'm doing?

When you broach the subject, you want to make a few things clear: 1) you appreciate what you have, 2) you're happy at your job (i.e. you don't plan to leave), and 3) you only want the appropriate title for the level of work required of you. You also want to leave them with a question at the end of your request to ensure they think about what you said rather than see it as a point of argument. When you ask a question you become less imposing and you don't want to overstep when making a request like this.

After you ask, your boss or manager will explain the situation and that explanation will likely fall under one of the previously described scenarios. If they provide you with the new title, great! If they want to wait, turn this denial into an opportunity. Ask them what the company would like to see from you in order to earn this title. Show them that you want it and that you want to work for it. As a result, if you don't get the title when the company traditionally promotes people you can ask why you didn't receive it while demonstrating how you met the criteria they laid out for you.

When Should I Care About My Job Title?

Job titles are silly little things that make us feel like we've made progress when we receive them. For the most part, they just don't really matter that much and you shouldn't put too much stock in them. Titles shouldn't affect how you feel about your role in the company and the (hopefully) good work that you do. You don't want your ego to get in your way.

That said, job title promotions show that the company recognizes that work. If they don't show that in other ways—like a pay raise—you should ask. Job titles have value once you leave the company. Even if you don't plan to do that anytime soon, things could change. You may get laid off if the company needs to downsize. You may find you hate your new responsibilities or the company hires a manager you just can't work with well. You need to care about your job title because it can get you a better job later on. Let go of the egotistical reasons that might make you want something like "Senior Manager" and aim for the title that'll get you better work later. You may not need it now, but planning ahead can mean avoiding unemployment later.


Photos by Kzenon (Shutterstock), zimmytws (Shutterstock), and The Office.

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Create Custom My Little Pony Toys!

my little ponies customized daring do custom pony 019 (2).JPGYou know there are a ton of ponies from the Friendship is Magic
show that you'd love to have in toy form!
Well, at least the list goes on and on for us...
starting with Daring Do...and enters the realm of our own custom ponies!
Here's a fabulous way to create your very own custom pony!
It's a super fun craft...and a super fun toy!custom pony before and after my little pony bait updated customize.jpgMeet Tropical Mist.
And yes, in her previous life, she was a haircut bait Sunny Days.

(Never fear, Daring Do is on her way!)

let's just get onto the basic process...shall we?

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